My Solo London Journey – 1

The only thing that is pending from my completed trip is the travelogue of my London adventure. I guess I better complete it so that I can sleep in peace and before memories start to fade.

There is already a brief report in my WordPress blog. But that is basically a summary of what I liked. Here is the detailed one. I think it is better to put them in a single post rather than cover it in 3/4 posts for each day.  If it gets too long I will split it into two.

24-April-2013:

Not much was done on this day because all I did was to wait in the Cosmos Office and then take a cab to Paddington to my hotel. And as soon as I got checked in and hauled my suitcase on the very tiny steps towards the very small room (a single room of course) in the third floor, all I had energy left was for to relax and not get up at all. God, the rooms are so small. Its a bed and breakfast thing, cheapest on my budget and placed in a easily accessible location. But still such small stairs… Well I am capable of dragging up my suitcase or even hauling it over my shoulder if need arises, but what about the old couple who stayed next to me. I could hear them huffing and panting and finally the next day, all they did after that effort was to try to open my door thinking it was theirs. I wonder how they carried it back down.

25-April-2013:

I got up around 9 or so if I am not wrong and after a quick shower hurried for the breakfast which is complimentary. Thankfully, they had hash browns and croissant and bread. Finally some potato :D. If you are used to having hash brown in U.S (atleast the ones I had in LA and Tahoe) which is sort of sliced and diced potatoes, the ones in U.K is different, they are like the cutlets that you get in India (the triangle shape) and they taste very good with tomato ketchup or sauce as they call it. I wasn’t sure what to do because I was dead tired and didn’t have any plan. Was planning on something on-the-go. So at around 11 or so, when I felt a little better to walk around, went down and checked out the route to the Hyde Park. The hotel was in Norfolk Square, which was right next to the Paddington Station (the underground Tube). The lady at the reception guided me to the Hyde park as it was in a walkable distance. My phone had data enabled so I was sure that if things went wrong I can still use the maps and come back. So I started off with my backpack and started walking, taking in the narrow streets, the hustle and bustle of London. Paddington is an important station to switch trains to National Rail to go to slightly far off places. There were these BigBus double decker buses (not the normal day to day bus, but the city tour buses) that were there. For a second I thought if I should hop on them, but then I wasn’t in the mood for the city tour that day, so I kept my focus on Hyde Park. I am not sure where I wrote this, but at the cost of repeating myself again, if you had read historical romance novels situated in and around London, you would have read about the Duch and Duchess or Count and Countess or Viscount or whoever is there in that novel will atleast once walk in the Hyde Park (for their evening or morning stroll, or for doing the riding in that big park or just go and sit near the Serpentine Lake). I had complete a big set of those novels, so I was super excited to see what that hype was about. It was just as they say ‘around the corner’ ;).

Whenever I go someplace I don’t know, I try to remember some markers like for e.g the Swan Lake Restaurant on the way, which will be easy to remember either due to the name or the symbol or something like that. If it was bread for Hansel and Gretel its buildings and landmarks for me, except that these cannot go missing. I entered the Hyde Park near the Italian Fountains. It was good day because the sun was shining high and bright, it was not that windy, there was a slight chill in the air but otherwise a glorious days as these Londoners call it. Taking my camera in hand, I started cataloging my journey through my photos. Its no joke, this park is freaking huge. Hyde Park on one side and Kensington Gardens on the other. It covers a massive area. The Serpentine Lake is across the whole part of the Hyde Park splitting it into two. I started my way from the Italian Fountains (a very nice one with lot of flowers and small fountains for decoration) and on the way to the Peter Pan statue, towards the Lady Diana Memorial Fountain (which was undergoing renovation) , all of these on one side of the Serpentine and covered with lot of trees and flowers and ducks and swans.

There are lot of trees not like the woods but like a park actually , which it is and the grass properly mowed. They were fixing a few places here and there. There is a gallery (Serpentine Gallery on the other end towards my left ) which was undergoing change and some offices to which I did not go. I walked the whole way towards the end of the Serpentine Lake. On the way you have various places where you can rest, but for some reason I just kept going on and on. Beyond that there were some war memorial statues and a odd looking tree. I think it takes a whole day to look at each and everything there. They have a swimming area in the Lake too and a big restaurant on the other end. All I had was a cappuccino. Then kept walking on the other side of the Lake till I was almost near the entry point through which I had come and then went towards the Kensington Garden side. There were lot of statues erected in memory of quite a few things. There was also the Kensington Palace, home of William and Kate, which was under renovation. I saw it from far away, but people still kept going there. After almost 2.5 hours of walk, I sat down in a shade. This park calls not only the tourists, it calls people who work out (even in the mid day), office goers coming to have their packed lunches here, friends meeting up, kids coming from school taking a break with their parents, colleagues having informal chit chat… what not. Its cool that they have such a place very near to the city where people can just come and relax without having to pay anything. Really cool. I loved this park. It is the biggest park in the city it seems. And after some time to calm my paining ankle started my way back to my hotel, because it was getting warmer and I was getting hungrier. It was almost 3.5 hours by the time I made it back towards the exit. I would really love to have such a park in the city where I choose to settle down.

Since I was hungry and I saw an Indian Restaurant, I suddenly felt like having a Veg Briyani. I had that and a panneer Tikka, and guess what I paid 21 pounds for that.. Jeez, I never knew my craving for Briyani will cost that much and it did not even stay long in me. After almost 2 weeks of simple non masala food, my stomach got upset over the sudden burst of masala. I walked back to my hotel after the sort-of leisure stroll and got some snacks for the night in a store nearby. There the guy in the counter asked me if I was an Indian as soon as he saw me. Well no marks for him for guessing. And then as soon as he saw the Ganesha photo in my purse, he was like…Hey I know that guy !! 🙂 I was like, oh yeah.. who is it .. He tried to recollect the name with so much effort, that I couldn’t help but smile… he was like.. its a god isnt.. a south Indian.. the elephant god..blah blah blah.. I lost interest.. told him it was Ganesha.. he was very happy to hear that… Really ??? I wasn’t sure if he was trying to flirt or if he was genuine..coz I could never recognize that. Then he was asking if this is my first time in London. When I asked him in affirmative, he asked me if I liked the city. I told him that this was my first day and I saw what I liked so far and before he could get talking again, paid him and was on my way out.

Went back to the hotel by around 3 pm or so and then relaxed for a while and called my friend who was in Sutton and check out the details on how to go to their place the next day because I had to check out by tomorrow. She called me back with the details at night and her husband guided me on how to use the Tube and the National Rail to arrive at their place. Its sort of 1 hour and 15 mins from Paddington. Noted down the information and went to sleep at around 9 pm.

I think I better break it here as it is getting lengthier… Will continue the journey in the next post tomorrow…..

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